U.S. Senator Bill Nelson

Serving Florida

Florida Senator Bill Nelson on school shooting: 'This tragedy should never happen again'

By Patrick Riley, Naples Daily News
Feb 16, 2018
PARKLAND, Florida — Sen. Bill Nelson said Friday that he hopes the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School will be a turning point and pleaded with Republican lawmakers and President Donald Trump to help enact what he called common sense gun legislation. 
 
“This tragedy should never happen again,” Nelson said during a press conference after meeting with federal and local officials at the Parkland school.
 
“The fact is that it’s a combination of a number of things that have to be dealt with. Mental health is certainly one of them. But the fact that an 18-year-old can purchase at age 18 an AR-15, which is the kind of caliber of an AK-47. It’s an assault weapon. And when that 18-year-old turns 19 and he walks into a school with an assault weapon. Then you have massacre. We’ve had too much of that in this state alone, not even to speak of the country.”
 
Nelson also lauded the students and parents for speaking out on national television. 
 
“The kids are just terrific,” he said. “The fact that they are speaking up as boldly as they are maybe that’s the turning point.”
 
But Nelson said he was not optimistic that enough Republican colleagues would join Democrats in the Senate in getting to the needed 60 votes to change gun laws.
 
“I know we’ll have 49 in the Senate, because that’s the number of Democrats we have,” he said. “You got to pick up 11 Republican senators to break filibustering. In other words to get to where you can consider the bill.”
 
Nelson said he was a co-sponsor of a draft bill by Sen. Dianne Feinstein to ban the sale of military-style assault weapons.
 
“It goes on for 100 pages to define what is an assault weapon and what is not an assault weapon,” he said. 
 
The ban would not include, for example, collectors items, but would prohibit the sale of the two assault weapons used in the Parkland and Pulse nightclub shootings, Nelson said.
 
Nelson said he supports the 2nd Amendment, but said assault weapons should not be available to the public.
 
“I have hunted all my life, I still hunt with my son,” he said. “But an AR-15 is not for hunting, it’s for killing.”
 
Nelson said it was hard to pass legislation without the president’s support. 
 
“What I would say to the President is, ‘Please change your position about assault weapons, please change your position, Mr. President, about background checks,’” he said. “These are two common sense things that we need to etch into law right now.”